Awards: English PEN Announces Its Year-End Translation Grant Recipients

In News by Porter Anderson

Eighteen titles will receive English PEN grants to support translation into English from  Arabic, Farsi, Catalan, Spanish, French, Chinese, Hindi, and more.

In London’s King’s Cross district, December 28, 2021. Image – Getty iStockphoto: VV Shots

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Differences in Form, Theme, Geography, and Style’
Shortly before Christmas, English PEN in London released a list of 18 grant recipients in its PEN Translates program.

Those grants are made in two tranches annually. Publishing Perspectives last covered the summertime group of grants on July 8.

The most recently announced works include writings originating in 13 languages from 15 nations and produced by 17 publishers. These titles comprise novels, short story collections, news reportage, poetry collections, epic verse, children’s literature, and political writing.

More distinctions claimed by the organization for its latest list are:

  • The first collection of Miyah poetry (by Bengal origin Muslims of Assam) in translation
  • The first children’s book in Hungarian to feature LGBTQ+ protagonists
  • The first time English PEN has supported titles from Djibouti and Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • The first time English PEN has supported work translated from the indigenous Mexican language called Mè’phàà (or Tlapanec) and the Char-Chapori dialect of Assamese and Bengali

The next period of submission for grants will run from April 1 to May 31.

Books are selected for PEN Translates supports, the program says, “on the basis of outstanding literary quality, the strength of the publishing project, and their contribution to UK bibliodiversity.”

The program weights those three criteria this way:

  • Literary quality, 40 percent
  • Strength of the publishing project, 30 percent
  • Contribution to bibliodiversity in the UK, 30 percent

In the case of bibliodiversity, the program defines it as “the variety and diversity of literature available in a region or country.”

PEN Translates December 2021 Grant Recipients

Launched in 2012 with support from Arts Council England, the intent of PEN Translates is to encourage publishers in the United Kingdom to publish more work translated into English. To that end, it provides grants, each of which may provide up to 75 percent of the cost of translation for chosen projects.

In the case of an applying publishing firm that operates with less than £500,000 annual turnover (US$676,574), the Translates program may choose to entire fund translation costs.

  • What Have You Left Behind? by Bushra Al-Maqtari, translated from Arabic by Sawad Hussain (Fitzcarraldo Editions). Country of origin: Yemen.
  • House Arrest by Hasan Alizadeh, translated from Farsi by Kayvan Tahmasebian and Rebecca Ruth Gould (Arc Publications). Country of origin: Iran.
  • Boulder by Eva Baltasar, translated from Catalan by Julia Sanches (And Other Stories). Country of origin: Spain.
  • To Love A Woman by Diana Bellessi, translated from Spanish by Leo Boix (Poetry Translation Centre). Country of origin: Argentina.
  • The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé, translated from French by Richard Philcox (World Editions). Country of origin: France.
  • A People’s History of Football by Mickaël Correia, translated from French by Fionn Petch (Pluto Press). Country of origin: France.
  • Discretion by Faïza Guène, translated from French by Sarah Ardizzone (Westbourne Publishers). Country of origin: France.
  • The Sacred Clan by Liang Hong, translated from Chinese by Esther Tyldesley (ACA Publishing). Country of origin: China.
  • Ma is Scared by Anjali Kajal, translated from Hindi by Kavita Bhanot (Comma Press). Country of origin: India.
  • Body Kintsugi by Senka Marić, translated from Bosnian by Celia Hawkesworth (Peirene Press). Country of origin: Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • The Dogs Dreamt by Hubert Matiúwàa, translated from Mè’phàà and Spanish by Juana Adcock (flipped eye publishing). Country of origin: Mexico.
  • Fairy Tales Are For Everyone, translated from Hungarian by Anna Bentley (HarperCollins). Country of origin: Hungary.
  • The Opposite of Seduction: New Poetry in German, translated from German (Shearsman). Countries of origin: Germany and Austria.
  • I Am Miyah: Poetry and Song by Bengali-Muslims in Assam, translated from Char-Chapori dialect of Assamese and Bengali by Shalim Hussain (Tilted Axis Press). Country of origin: India.
  • Island Mountain Glacier by Anne Vegter, translated from Dutch by Astrid Alben (Prototype). Country of origin: Netherlands.
  • A Feminist Theory of Violence by Françoise Vergès, translated from French by Melissa Thackway (Pluto Press). Country of origin: France.
  • Why Do You Dance When You Walk? by Abdourahman Waberi, translated from French by Nicole Ball and David Ball (Cassava Republic Press). Country of origin: Djibouti.
  • Annette: An Epic Heroine by Anne Weber, translated from German by Tess Lewis (The Indigo Press). Country of origin: France.

Will Forrester

In comments on this round of grants, Will Forrester, English PEN’s translation and international manager, is quoted, saying, “Not only are these 18 books exceptional works of literature, but they also attest to the current vitality of translated-literature publication.”

The 17 publishers whose work is supported by these grants, Forrester says, produce disparate content that’s “united as works of outstanding writing and translating.” Taken together, he says, they embrace “extraordinary differences in form, theme, geography, and style.”

English PEN reports that PEN Translates has supported the translation to English of more than 350 books originating in at least 60 languages. Twelve of them have been longlisted in the International Booker Prize program.

In 2021, titles receiving PEN Translates grants were shortlisted, the organization says, by:

  • Warwick Prize for Women in Translation
  • The United States’ National Book Awards
  • The Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize
  • Premio Valle Inclán
  • The United Kingdom’s TA First Translation Prize
  • The International Dublin Literary Award

The organization reports that in the last four years, grants averaged £2,750 each (US$3,721). Eighty percent of its grants during that period, the program reports, were between £1,000 and £4,750 each (US$1,353 and $6,427). Since its inception, PEN Translates reports, it has issued more than £1 million in grants (US$1.4 million).

The Coronavirus in the United Kingdom

On Saturday (January 1), public-sector leaders in the United Kingdom were advised “to prepare for ‘worst-case scenarios’ of 10-percent,  20-percent, and 25-percent absence rates,” per the cabinet office in a report from the BBC following record numbers of daily cases through much of the holiday period in the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. On Saturday, a run of five consecutive daily records had produced a count of 162,572 new cases in England alone for the day.

“Ministers have been tasked with developing ‘robust contingency plans’ for workplace absences,” amid the soaring numbers precipitated by the omicron variant, “as the government warned rising cases could see up to a quarter of staff off work.”

At this writing, the 5:21 a.m. ET (1022 GMT) update of the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center sees on a 28-day rolling basis, 3,136 cases in the United Kingdom’s population of 67 million, with 3,102,740 fatalities. During the full run of the pandemic, the UK has reported a total 13,723,275 cases and 149,417 deaths.

In London’s Waterloo Main railway station, November 21. 2021. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Martin R. Lee

More from us on English PEN is here, and more on the International Booker Prize is here. More on the United States’ National Book Awards is here, and more on translation and translators is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.